Story in Sockdolager

The Sockdolager is a great little magazine that publishes speculative fiction in many different flavours. I’m lucky enough to have had a story of mine, Tofino, picked up as a reprint, and it’s available now online for the first time in their Spring 2016 issue.

Have a look at

Quantum Shorts Competition Runner-Up

I’m delighted to announce that my story “Don’t Die Before You’re Dead, Sally Wu” was the runner-up in the 2015 Quantum Shorts Competition, held by Singapore’s Institute for Quantum Technologies, Scientific American and The announcement and an interview with me are here:

Story Published in Unbuild Walls

My story “Twentieth Century House,” has been published online for the first time in the excellent new journal, Unbuild Walls. This new online publication is interested in speculative fiction with a literary flavour. I’m going to be doing a bit of submission reading for them going forward too, as I want to support what they’re doing.

Revisiting Old Work

I came across a link to this piece in the Financial Times on Megan Hustad’s blog (warning, tiny but intensely interesting print).

The piece is about a sale last year of works annotated by their authors. Specifically first editions. JK Rowling, Julian Barnes, Seamus Heaney, Tom Stoppard, Ian McEwan, and many, many more luminaries. It was all for PEN, the charity. What’s delicious about it as a writer who’s been ripping up great reams of older writing in the eternal hope to improve something that seemed quite good at the time, is what some of them have said.

“It was an appalling experience in my case,” the novelist John Banville said. “The only thing that I got from it was the opportunity to defile my own book. It’s like peeing all over it. Take that, you swine!”

“My first editions contain lines from which I have to avert my eyes” – Tom Stoppard.

“Am I supposed to be criticising the book saying how much better I’d do it now? Trouble is, I think I peaked.” Helen Fielding.

Lots more at the article itself.

Torturing Characters

The incomparable Charlie Jane Anders has posted another useful series of writing tips on, which is currently one of my favourite sites on the web – it’s got a great mix of science, science fiction and general cool geekiness. My sort of people!

Many writers, myself included, have a natural habit of turning away from making bad things happen to people they like (their characters). But who wants to read a book where nobody is in peril? So it’s a constant process of reminding yourself as you write to up the stakes, to complicate things, to take every opportunity when a decision is made to make it either be the wrong one, or one that complicates life.

In a recent chapter of a work in progress, I realized that one of the main characters would realize her parents would potentially be in danger if they came to visit her. So immediately I started writing the scene where she convinces them not to come. And then I reminded myself of what I was doing. My own parents: sure I’d want to convince them to stay away from danger. But fictional parents have to insist on coming, complicating the character’s already complicated circumstances.

It’s a habit to learn. Charlie’s tips are good ones. I especially like number 3: “People should suffer for their mistakes, but also their good deeds.”